Study: Apple Watch can detect hypertension, sleep apnea

A new study by health startup Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) suggests wearables like the Apple Watch, Fitbit and others are able to accurately detect common but serious conditions like hypertension and sleep apnea, as noted by TechCrunch.

Cardiogram and UCSF previously demonstrated the ability for the Apple Watch to detect abnormal heart rhythm with a 97% accuracy. This new study shows the Watch can detect sleep apnea with a 90% accuracy and hypertension with an 82% accuracy.

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The study of 6,115 participants was implemented to evaluate whether a novel deep neural network (DNN) can predict cardiovascular risk factors from off-the-shelf wearables with a photoplethysmographic (PPG) heart rate sensor and accelerometer. Cardiogram and UCSF say that the study demonstrates “surprisingly good prediction of hypertension and sleep apnea given that its only inputs are heart rate and step count.” Whether such DNNs can provide durable and portable predictions for these conditions in other study samples is worth pursuing.

Cardiogram’s Health & Heart Rate is a free app for the Apple Watch that helps users track sleep, stress, and fitness using your Apple Watch's built-in heart rate sensor.